ELDRDIGE — The North Scott girls basketball team was in a tussle in the first quarter of its district playoff opener with Washington on Saturday night.
The Lancers allowed 16 points in the first eight minutes of the Class 4A district semifinal and led by just two points over the Demons.
North Scott proceeded to allow 11 points in the game's final 25 minutes en route to an eventual 58-27 win over Washington at The Pit. The Lancers (21-1) will host Fairfield on Tuesday at 7 p.m. for the district crown and the right to advance to the state tournament.
The defensive lock-down was impressive even against a seven-win Washington team. The Demons' Anna Nacos hit a 3-pointer with 1 minute, 2 seconds left in the first quarter to give Washington a 16-15 lead over the hosts.
From there, North Scott forced 15 turnovers, allowed just four more field goals and snagged 12 steals as a team in the final three quarters of the game. Rylie Rucker had five of those steals and also finished with a game-high 16 points and 14 rebounds.
The second quarter, perhaps was the most impressive, as four different North Scott players recorded steals and the team forced eight turnovers. The Demons attempted four field goals in the quarter and made one.
It helped allow North Scott to take control of the game with a 31-18 lead by halftime that was not challenged the rest of the way. Rucker, Presley Case, Brooke Corson and Grace Boffeli were all guilty of thefts from the Demons.
Rucker said it was not any kind of defensive adjustment. She actually attributed it to some rust as the Lancers had not played in the last eight days.
"We just had to get out, getting going and settle in," Rucker said of the first quarter. "It's hard when you have not played a game in a week so maybe a little bit tired. I think it was getting adjusted to the flow of the game."
The Demons did damage in the first quarter by going to post players Kira Ropp and Addison Six, who were able to get to the basket of kick out passes for jump shots to guards Sarah Nacos or Isabel Bailey.
That inside-out game dried up in the second quarter when the Lancers started to double team in the post and also did a solid job of rotating defensively, limiting any kind of open looks for the visitors.
"Communication, that's all it is," Rucker said of the in-sync defense. "We started to pick things up in the second quarter."
Many of Rucker's 14 rebounds came after long shots that bounced back into the lane or near the perimeter as the junior out-hustled everyone to the ball. Nine of Rucker's rebounds were on the defensive end. Boffeli also did a nice job on the glass, snagging nine more rebounds as North Scott tallied 30 rebounds to Washington's 17 boards.
"It does not matter who you are playing; you can't give any team any second chances," Rucker said.
Presley Case contributed nine points and three steals, and Corson added seven more points. Maddie Case had six points on a pair of 3-pointers.
The competition will jump up from here on out for the defending 4A champs. Fairfield will come into Tuesday's game with an 18-4 record. Lancers coach T.J. Case said his team just has to continue to play solid defense and be efficient on offense.
"We just have to settle in and do what we do," Case said. "Get defensive stops and then just kind of let our offense flow through Boffeli a little bit and let our shots come from the outside when there are chances."